E-Newsletter for Sunday, April 7, 2019

Last Call for Easter Flowers, Roomful of Episcopalians, Calling All Book Lovers and more in the E-Newsletter for April 7, 2019  https://mailchi.mp/9e46d84005ac/ey7eu7o5mr-1460149

From the Rector
The Rev. Dr. Jared C. Cramer, SCP

Dear *|FNAME|*,

The church is not a democracy. 

This was one of the several principles we discussed at the Worship Gathering on Monday, where we considered whether or not to continue using the expansive-language trial use versions of our prayer book liturgies. The church is not a democracy—but, to be clear, neither is it a dictatorship. So, people on the various sides of this question who wanted me to do what they wanted done, to make a decision by fiat, were going to be disappointed.

Instead, the church is a spiritual community, it is the gathered-together body of Christ in a particular locale. Each of us within this community have various roles and callings. As St. Paul says in First Corinthians 12, "Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of languages." 

The role of the rector is two-fold. I am, first and foremost a priest who, according to our catechism, is ordained "to represent Christ and his Church, particularly as pastor to the people; to share with the bishop in the overseeing of the Church; to proclaim the Gospel; to administer the sacraments; and to bless and declare pardon in the name of God."

In my role of oversight of the church, I try to be attentive to Paul's teachings. In the chapter before the one I cited above from Corinthians, he actually speaks directly to the question of our worship, writing, "Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord." He goes on, warning us, "For all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgement against themselves."

"Discerning the body" is a multivalent phrase, referring in some ways to Christ's bodily presence in the sacrament, but also to the body of Christ as the corporate community gathered for worship. After all, that's what Paul is talking about in First Corinthians—a community who is dividing itself into various factions when they approach worship, instead of discerning how each of them is a part of the body of Christ. 

So, when the Worship Gathering got together on Monday to review the survey results from our use of the expansive-language liturgies, I tried first and foremost to remind us that we are not a democracy where a simple majority vote always results in the right thing done. Rather, as the body of Christ gathered in this place, we have to "discern the body."

St. Paul also teaches in that same part of First Corinthians that no part of the Body of Christ can say to another member, "I have no need of you." Instead, he says, "On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable." Further, "If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it."

The Worship Gathering considered this theological truth. Even though only 10% of our community strongly preferred we return to the language of the prayer book, we cannot just write off that 10%. Rather, we have to be attentive to that part of our body. And, in the same way, those who strongly wanted us to return to the language of the prayer book have to be attentive to other members, who found the more expansive language liturgies a gift in their worship.

There are no easy answers to these sorts of questions.

But after prayer and conversation, after listening to people with a wide variety of views, the Gathering decided that we will return to the language of the prayer book. One of the most fundamental reasons was not only our desire to be attentive to those who deeply desired this return, but also because we know that the process of prayer book revision is a very long one.

The liturgy we have been using is by no means a final liturgy. It is just a draft being "tried out." After getting feedback from the church, it will likely be edited and then a new form sent out for another trial use by the next General Convention. And again and again until a final form shows up in a revised prayer book sometime in the future.

Rather than have our liturgy changing constantly, meaning we are always having to trip over new words and phrases, we decided we want to remain as a parish that is grounded in the prayer book. When a trial use version is put out again, we will try that liturgy as well for a period of time so that we can report back our experience to the larger church. 

Everyone agreed we had a sufficient experience with this trial use draft to give our feedback at this point. Once that mechanism is published, I will share it with you all. 

I know some of you may be thrilled by this decision and, likewise, some of you may be frustrated. I would encourage you, no matter what, to strive to "discern the body" and be attentive to your fellow sisters and brothers.

Because it is our loving care of each other that makes manifest the Body of Christ in our world. And that is the job of every one of us.

Through Grace,

PS ~ We are still very much in need of two or three more people to serve as Nursery Volunteers and take some of the load off of our current volunteers. If you could help watch the little children of our young families once six or seven weeks, please contact Cindi in the Parish Office. The more volunteers we have, the easier the rotation is on everyone involved. Remember, the service is still streamed live downstairs to the nursery, so you don't have to miss out entirely on what's happening upstairs. And if parents bring their small kids up for Communion at the Peace, you are welcome to close the nursery early and come upstairs as well!

Read more in the E-Newsletter for Sunday, April 7, 2019   https://mailchi.mp/9e46d84005ac/ey7eu7o5mr-1460149

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